Best Alternatives for Flour in a Recipe!

Plain old baking flour has ended up with a bad reputation in today’s kitchens. Flour is needed for a variety of recipes, but how do we choose the best alternative? And how do we substitute it in a recipe?

Why substitute flour?

Choosing a flour alternative is a great option if you are trying to make a traditional recipe a little healthier, or if you just want to use something you already have on hand (no last minute rushing to the grocery store for ingredients).

If you or someone in your family has specific food allergies, this is an easy way to modify a recipe to suit those specific needs. I’ll bet you’ve got at least one of these great flour alternatives hanging around in the back of the pantry, just ready for baking!

Today I am sharing my top flour alternatives you can easily substitute in almost any recipe. Here are some great alternatives to that plain old flour your grandmother used to bake with!

Almond Flour

Almonds are a great substitute for traditional flour. Almond flour bags can be labelled almond meal or almond flour, but these are essentially the same thing. Almond flour is produced using blanched almonds (blanching: removing the skins) while almond meal is made using either blanched or unblanched almonds. 

You can buy pre-ground almond flour/almond meal at the grocery store, or make your own.

To make your own: Use whole almonds or almond slices (whatever you have in the pantry or whatever is on sale at the grocery store), and pulse it through a food processor until the almonds have a fine consistency. 

Using almond meal in your favorite baked goods recipes will impart a subtle nutty flavor and provide a more filling flavor. Plus, almonds are nutritious. A 1/4 cup of Almond Flour contains 6 g protein, 3 g fiber, 60 mg calcium, plus iron and magnesium.

You can substitute almond flour in any recipe. It’s a particularly delicious choice when used in muffins or cookies, and you can even use it as a breadcrumb substitute in meatball recipes. 

How to adjust the recipe:  

You can replace up to 50% of regular flour with almond meal or almond flour without any issue. One important thing to keep in mind, is that the more almond flour you substitute into a recipe, the more liquid you may need to add to your recipe to get the right consistency. Almond meal tends to be a bit drier and is more absorbent than regular flour. So eyeball the consistency and add additional liquid as needed. 

Oat Flour

Oat flour is another great option. You can purchase large bags of oats at the grocery store, or in bulk at a place like Costco. Be sure you are purchasing regular rolled oats, and not steel cut (or any other slow-cook) type of oats. 

To make oat flour: just pulse the dry oats through a food processor until they reach the desired ‘powder like’ consistency.  As an alternative, if you don’t have a food processor, you can process the oats through a coffee grinder to get the proper texture. I haven’t tried the coffee grinder option before, but I know someone that swears by it. 

Choosing to use oat flour in your recipe will keep the flavor and consistency the same as if you used regular flour. Baked goods remain light and fluffy and the oats do not impact the taste! Plus oat flour has all the benefits that you’ve come to associate with a bowl of oatmeal! They are packed with fiber to help stabilize blood glucose levels and help you feel full longer. Regular consumption of oats has also been shown to help decrease cholesterol levels.

How to adjust the recipe: 

For all recipes you can substitute oat flour for traditional flour in a 1:1 ratio. It is safe to completely substitute oat flour for all the traditional flour in your recipe. 

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is a fun and tropical alternative to regular baking flour. It’s great for those with gluten sensitivities too! We especially love to make recipes and substitute coconut flour in the summer months because it adds a touch of coconut flavor to our muffins, cupcakes and breads.

To make coconut flour: Use dried, unsweetened coconut flakes and pulse them through the food processor until they are a flour like consistency. 

Coconut flour is an excellent substitute for those with a gluten allergy. However, if you are buying premade coconut flour, be sure it isn’t processed on equipment that also processes gluten containing foods. It will usually say this as a disclaimer somewhere on the package, so it’s something to look for if you have a true gluten allergy or are baking for someone who has a gluten sensitivity.

Coconut flour is also a great source of fiber and is low in carbohydrates. It adds a rich texture and natural sweetness to any baked good and it’s also paleo friendly. 

How to adjust the recipe: 

For every 1 cup of regular flour a recipe calls for, just substitute in 1/4 cup of coconut flour. Coconut flour also has a high absorbency so you may find you need to add more liquid to your recipe as you go.

Quinoa Flour 

This superfood is also a great flour substitute. It’s a source of complete proteins (complete meaning: contains all 9 essential amino acids) and is high in dietary fiber. 

You find Quinoa flour on the shelves at the local grocery stores, or you can make your own. 

To make Quinoa flour: Simply add the dried, uncooked quinoa to a food processor or coffee grinder and blend away until you get that fluffy flour texture.

Quinoa flour is another great choice for those eating a gluten free diet. It adds a slightly nutty flavor to any recipe and we love to use it in waffle, pancake, and flatbread recipes. I would avoid using it in any yeast-type breads.

How to adjust the recipe (this depends on what you are making):

If you are making muffins, cupcakes or other light and airy baked goods, replace half of the regular flour in a recipe with Quinoa flour in a 1:1 ration.

If you are making more dense recipes, like pancakes or flatbreads, you can safely replace all the flour in a recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Quinoa flour. 

It’s best to start with a smaller substitution at first, and work up to a complete substitution once you know how the recipe will behave. 

Hemp Flour:

Hemp Seed Flour is another great substitute. This one however, you should buy from a grocery store or specialty shop as it is challenging to make at home.

Making your own: Hemp seeds have a high oil content and do not blend or easily process into flour. Instead, they become a paste or butter like consistency when blended. So whats the trick for making Hemp Flour? You have to get rid of the oil in the hemp seed, and then the remaining product can be processed into flour. I don’t know how to do this, and I haven’t tried it at home, so I recommend just purchasing hemp flour from a trusted retailer.

Hemp flour is gluten free, but it is dense and does not rise, making it ideal for items such as hard crackers or flat breads. Hemp flour is a low sugar option and also contains calcium.

How to adjust the recipe: 

As I said above, because hemp flour is so dense and does not rise, you can only substitute about 25% of the amount of needed flour in a recipe with hemp flour. You will still need to use the other 75% of the traditional flour in your recipe in order for the baked goods to rise and turn out as expected.  

Protein Powder

So this one isn’t really a ‘flour’. There are a plethora of protein powders on the market. If you have one that you just love and want to add it to your baking, it is possible!

This is also a great tip if you ended up buying a protein powder that you didn’t fall in love with. You don’t have to throw it away; you can bake with it! The baked goods flavor ends up being quite subtle regardless of the protein powder flavor used, plus you get a nutritional boost so it’s a win win!

Making your own: I wouldn’t opt for making your own protein powder. That process would be a tad complicated for my simple kitchen skills! Just use whatever you already have in the pantry.

How to adjust the recipe:

You can substitute half of the amount of flour in a recipe for protein powder. 

So if a recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, just use 1/2 cup of flour (any of the above alternatives are great choices) and 1/2 cup of the protein powder. 

I hope this article gives you some ideas for how to switch up your baking! Wether you are looking to make healthier choices, bake for a loved one with food sensitivities, or simply go through all those bags and containers of flours and powders in your pantry! 

Be sure to let me know what your favorite flour substitute is and what you make with it!  

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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